Philosophy and Literature

For an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of literature and philosophy, see Thomas McFarland, “Literature and Philosophy,” pp. 25–46 in Barricelli and Gibaldi, Interrelations of Literature (U5955). Some works in section U: Literature-Related Topics and Sources/Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies treat literature and philosophy.

Guides to Reference Works


Bynagle, Hans E. Philosophy: A Guide to the Reference Literature. 3rd ed. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2006. 385 pp. Reference Sources in the Humanities Ser. Z7125.B97 [B72] 016.1.

A selective, annotated guide to reference works published through October 2005 on philosophy. The 866 entries are variously classified within 24 chapters covering general sources, the history of philosophy, the branches of philosophy, and miscellaneous topics. The annotations are admirably full and occasionally evaluative. Three indexes: authors; titles; subjects. Substantially expanded and more effectively organized than the second edition (1997), Bynagle offers the most current and evaluative guide to reference works on philosophy.

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online (REP Online). Routledge, 1998–2013. 1 Feb. 2013. <>. Updated regularly.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward Craig, gen. ed. 10 vols. London: Routledge, 1998. B51.R68 100.21. CD-ROM.

A dictionary of philosophy, ancient through modern, Eastern and Western, with analytic and historical discussions of philosophers; branches of the discipline; and concepts, theories, schools, and movements. Written by major scholars and vetted by specialist editors, the 2,054 signed entries are of three kinds: “signpost” ones that offer an overview of a subdiscipline or region, thematic ones, and biographical ones. Each begins with a concise summary of the topic, followed by a table of contents for the entry (if more than 1,000 words), a full discussion with liberal cross-references, and an annotated bibliography. Since many persons, concepts, theories, and terms are treated within entries, the index of terms, concepts, and names in vol. 10 is frequently the best place to begin unless one has access to the online version, which is updated regularly (click What’s New for lists of new and revised articles). Users can browse articles, use the Subject Guides (which offer nested lists of articles), or search by keyword in full text, contributor, bibliography, and subject fields (the pull-down menu includes language but not literature; search “literature” in the All Subjects field of the Full Text Search box). The record display window provides a pane on the left that helpfully specifies how search results can be viewed by subject or article type. Unfortunately, printing or downloading is possible only through a Web browser’s functions. Although there is some regional and theoretical imbalance, this authoritative, admirably edited compilation is the best encyclopedia of the subject. Reviews: (online version) Tom Gilson, Charleston Advisor 2.4 (2001): 38; 1 Feb. 2013; <>; (print version) George Steiner, New York Times Book Review 5 July 1998: 12–13.

Guides to Scholarship


The Philosopher’s Index: An International Index to Philosophical Periodicals and Books. Bowling Green: Philosopher’s Information Center, 1969– . Quarterly, with annual cumulation. Former title: The Philosopher’s Index: An International Index to Periodicals (1969–82). Z7127.P47 016.105. <>. Updated quarterly. CD-ROM.

An online compilation of

  • The Philosopher’s Index: A Retrospective Index to U. S. Publications from 1940. 3 vols. 1978.

  • The Philosopher’s Index: A Retrospective Index to Non–U. S. English Language Publications from 1940. 3 vols. 1980.

An index to major philosophical journals (currently about 680) in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and selected other languages, some interdisciplinary journals, English-language books (since the volume for 1980), and selected foreign language ones (beginning in the volume for 1984). Entries are now organized in three parts: (1) a subject index, with headings for persons, historical periods, major fields of philosophy and their branches, and topics; (2) an author index, with descriptive abstracts of several works (beginning with the volume for 1969); (3) a book review index (since the volume for 1970; coverage of book reviews in the database begins with vol. 28 [1994]). The organization, subject indexing, and design have improved markedly over the years; unfortunately, a substantial number of publications—especially in foreign languages—in each annual volume are not abstracted, and some documents indexed have not been seen by the editorial staff. The Retrospective Index to Non–U. S. English Language Publications covers books published between 1940 and 1978 and articles between 1940 and 1966; U. S. Publications includes books from 1940 through 1976 and articles from 1940 through 1966. Both have separate subject and author indexes, but the majority of the works in each lack abstracts. The records have (inexcusably) not been edited for consistency in the database; thus, many entries before 1990 appear distractingly in uppercase, recent abstracts adhere to no consistent style and mix summary and paraphrase, and the subject-headings index needs to be transformed into something other than a keyword list. For a list of vendors, see the publisher’s Web site. Although not comprehensive, the Philosopher’s Index series offers the most complete coverage of current philosophical scholarship and cites numerous literary studies omitted from the standard serial bibliographies and indexes in section G. Review: Joseph E. Gorra, Charleston Advisor 9.2 (2007): 38–43; 1 Feb. 2013; <>.

See also

MLAIB (G335): See the headings beginning “Philosophical” or “Philosophy” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.